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How the coronavirus has hit global sport

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Paris (AFP)

AFP Sport looks at the effects on sport of the coronavirus, which at 1700GMT Sunday had killed 3,792 people while infecting more than 109,000 in 99 countries worldwide.

FOOTBALL

-- In Italy, the hardest-hit European country with 366 deaths from COVID-19, Serie A descended into controversy when Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora called for the league season to be put on hold.

Italian Footballers' Association president Damiano Tommasi tweeted that "stopping football is the most useful thing for our country right now. The teams to cheer are playing in our hospitals, in emergency rooms."

However, five Serie A games -- cancelled the previous week -- went ahead behind closed doors, including Juventus' top of the table clash with Inter Milan.

-- The Italian Cup semi-finals have also been postponed to a date to be arranged.

-- The start of Japan's J-League was postponed till mid-March while China suspended all domestic football and shelved indefinitely the top-flight Super League season.

-- The Valencia v Atalanta Champions League clash on Tuesday will be played behind closed doors as will the Europa League tie featuring Inter Milan against Getafe on Thursday.

-- Former Danish international Thomas Kahlenberg tested positive for the virus, with 13 members of his former club Brondby's staff put into quarantine.

MOTOR RACING

-- Bahrain's Formula 1 Grand Prix scheduled for March 20-22 will be held without spectators.

-- The Chinese Formula One Grand Prix, which was set for April 19 in Shanghai, was axed.

-- In motorcycling, the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, set for Sunday, and the Thailand MotoGP cancelled. The Thai race has, however, been rearranged for October 4.

-- Formula E postponed its Rome E-Prix, which was due to be held on April 4.

BASKETBALL

-- LeBron James said he won't play if his Los Angeles Lakers have to hold games behind closed doors due to the outbreak.

The NBA has reportedly told teams to look into strategies on how to play without fans in the arena amid concerns over the spreading virus.

"Nah. It's impossible. If I show up to the arena and there ain't no fans in the crowd, then I ain't playing. This ain't Europe."

CYCLING

-- The spring classic Milan-San Remo, scheduled for March 21, was postponed, having only previously been cancelled three times since the inaugural edition in 1907.

-- The Strade Bianchi, the first big race of the Italian cycling season set for Saturday, was also cancelled along with the Tirreno-Adriatico while teams such as Mitchelton, Ineos and Astana pulled out of the Paris-Nice.

-- The UAE Tour's last two stages were abandoned with riders and teams subsequently quarantined in their Abu Dhabi hotels. The Gulf state announced eight coronavirus cases linked to the event -- four Italians, two Russians, one German and a Colombian.

TOKYO OLYMPICS

-- International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said last Wednesday that the nightmare scenario of either cancelling or postponing this year's Tokyo Olympics was not discussed at a key meeting.

"Neither the word cancellation nor postponement was mentioned today during the Executive Board meeting," Bach told reporters in Lausanne.

The Olympics take place from July 24-August 9.

RUGBY UNION

-- The Six Nations match between Italy and England in Rome on March 14 as well as the Ireland v Italy duel in Dublin on March 7 cancelled.

-- Scotland's women's Six Nations match against France was postponed after a Scottish player tested positive for the coronavirus.

-- Sevens World Series tournaments in Hong Kong on April 3-5 and Singapore the following weekend have been postponed.

CRICKET

-- Nepal's Everest Premier League, scheduled to begin on March 14, has also been called off. The fourth edition of the Twenty20 league had signed West Indies batting star Chris Gayle.

GOLF

-- European Tour chiefs postponed the Maybank Championship in Malaysia and the China Open in Shenzhen -- both set for April.

-- The US LPGA Tour cancelled all three of its lucrative early-season events in Asia with a combined prize purse of more than $5 million.

TENNIS

-- The ATP and WTA announced measures aimed at combatting the spread of the virus, days before the start of the prestigious Indian Wells event in California.

Players and mascots won't hold hands when they walk on court. Ball kids will be provided with gloves and won't handle player towels or drinks during matches.

Players will be instructed not to distribute used towels, headbands, shirts and sweatbands -- which are sometimes tossed to fans as souvenirs. Also, players won't accept pens, tennis balls or other items to be signed.

ATHLETICS

-- The World Indoor Championships, scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15, postponed for a year.

-- World half-marathon championships, due to be held on March 29 in the Polish city of Gdynia, shelved until October 17.

-- The Paris Marathon, scheduled for April 5 with 60,000 registered runners, was postponed until October 18.

-- The Barcelona Marathon, which was scheduled for March 15 with 17,000 runners, was postponed until October.

ALPINE SKIING

-- The World Cup finals, scheduled for Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy between March 16-22, cancelled.

ICE HOCKEY

-- The Women's World Ice Hockey Championships, set for Halifax and Truro in Nova Scotia for March 31 to April 10, cancelled.

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